An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott, illustrated by James Bernardin.  HarperCollins, 2005.

One of my favorite books as a child was Louisa Alcott: Girl of Old Boston by Jean Brown Wagoner [Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1943].  My grandma scored it at an estate sale, and gave it to me to read while we drove to Colorado for summer vacation.  I read this book many, many times.  By the time I was twelve, I was ready to tackle Little Women, and my other grandma gave me a copy while I stayed with her and my grandpa in Oklahoma.  I do love the March sisters and Marmee and Laurie.  A few years ago, I read an adult biography of Louisa May Alcott, which I wanted to read after watching a documentary about her on PBS.

Yet I have never read anything else written by Louisa May Alcott herself.  I never read Little Men or Jo's Boys, An Old-Fashioned Girl or any of her gothic tales.  As I searched the library website for interesting Thanksgiving books, though, I found this picture book adaptation of her short story "An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving."  I thought the illustrations were beautiful, and while it's a simplified version of Alcott's original story [you can read it here], it was a perfect cozy read for my daughters and me.  (Oh!  James Bernardin illustrated the adorable Yes, Virginia, which became one of Little Sis's favorite holiday specials!  I did not know that until I went hunting for links...)









The story is simple.  A large New England family is about to start preparing their Thanksgiving meal when a visitor arrives.  Grandmother is sick, the parents must go at once.  The oldest daughter decides the children should cook the feast themselves.  Some mistakes are made.  Suddenly the youngest children burst through the door.  People are coming!  It's mother and father, aunts and uncles, and Grandmother herself!  It turned out the messenger had the story completely wrong.  The family sits down to the meal the older daughters made.  There are some comical moments - what is in the stuffing? - but the family is appreciative of the girls' effort.  Music and dancing follow, in a scene that rivals the sugar snow dance at Grandpa's in Little House in the Big Woods.

I have this wonderful image in my head of me, curled up with the girls and a big quilt, snuggled up and reading Little Women someday.  It will be a winter read, as the Christmas scenes are so beautifully written in that book.  I will wait until they are older; the language is a bit too difficult now.  Then we will watch the 1933 film version with Katharine Hepburn, since it's probably closest to the book, and the 1994 version with Winona Ryder, which borrows so wonderfully from Alcott's own life story.  The 1994 version also gives us a Professor Bhaer that almost makes up for Jo refusing Laurie.  I've always had a bit of a weakness for Gabriel Byrne.

P.S.  I might have had Louisa on my mind thanks to Heather at Audrey Eclectic.  She went on a lovely trip to New England last month, which included a visit to Orchard House!  And look at her beautiful Little Women-inspired folk art painting, too.

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Comments

  1. I love that sugar snow dance! and yes, Gabriel Byrne is perfect for Winona (who in my head is now really confused with Kiera Knightly - but I WAY prefer Winona),actually he's perfect for anyone! I just ordered Harvey Slumfenbergers Christmas Present as a seasonal read, can't wait to get the quilt and kids together to read it.Happy Thanksgiving from Dublin.

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    1. I confuse Keira Knightley with Natalie Portman. They confuse me frequently, in fact. :) I have never read Harvey Slumfenbergers Christmas Present! I really need to check out more John Burningham. Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes. Have a lovely week! xoxo

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  2. This sounds positively wonderful! I read most of the Little Women series when I was a girl, and I'm looking forward to seeing my daughter enjoy them when she's older. I'd never heard of this book – thanks for sharing it! xoxo

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    1. I was excited to find this one. Apparently, it is now out-of-print, although there is another picture book edition listed on Amazon. It's very simplified, but that's fine. It's for young children. The girls have asked me to read Little Women to them, but I think a lot of the language would be over their heads now. I promised them we'd try it in a couple of years. Don't want to wait until their too old to enjoy momm-daughter reading time. Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo

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  3. I love it. I want it. Happy Thanksgiving! You're blog is always full of such sweet treasures.

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    1. Aww, thanks! This one made me happy. It's worth hunting down! Have a lovely Thanksgiving!!!

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  4. oh HEAVENS!!! I had such a crush on Gabriel Byrne back in the day! He was BEAUTIFUL when he was younger! Those blue eyes and the black hair! You're right, he wins over Christian Bale in that movie. What a find of a book! This looks enchanting! I WISH WISH I could come be cozy at your house too! Oh you have to read Eight Cousins! That one was one of my big favorites. You will adore. XOXOXXOXO

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    1. Between Little Women and Into the West (the Irish movie about the little boys and the magical horse), I definitely had a crush on Gabriel Byrne. I had a crush on Christian Bale at the time, too. And gosh, even Eric Stoltz was in that movie! Yeah, he was playing the fussy tutor, but sheesh, he was still eye candy. I'll have to find Eight Cousins. I know I have Little Men and An Old-Fashioned Girl somewhere... Have a gorgeous Thanksgiving! xoxo

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  5. What an adorable book!!! I love love love Little Women and this is truly a great find. I do remember Laura Ingalls dance at Grandpa and it gives me happy feelings just thinking about it! I saw the Wynona Ryder version of the movie but my first one was the 1949 production with June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh! I like both movies to be honest and I hope one day my girl will love reading the story and watching the movie too! Little Women is probably one of the first English novel I read (and I have blurry memories of that because my English was so poor back then LOL)

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    1. I never liked the '40s version as much. Unfortunately, June Allyson tends to get on my nerves, and as much as I adore Margaret O'Brien, it always bothered me that she played Beth. Amy is supposed to be the youngest! The movie looks beautiful, though. The colors and costumes... Little Women must have been a hard one to tackle while you were still learning English! It's so flowery Victorian at times. I hope you and your sweet baby enjoy it together someday, too! Have a lovely Thanksgiving! xoxo :)

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  6. What a gem this is! I totally love Louisa Alcott and Little Women (which is a childhood favorite) and the Winona film (I've never watched any other version though). Love the illustrations in this one.

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    1. The illustrations are gorgeous! They fit the story very well. :)

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